Text message court reminders released

by Samantha Woodhill04 Nov 2015
A service reminding those appearing in court via automated text message has been released as part of a plan to modernise the court system.

Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the new service this week, saying the reminder system will hopefully help the four-to-six per cent no show rate.

“Text reminders are commonplace for many sorts of appointments, from hospital to hairdressers, and this new service should help defendants by prompting them the day before they are due in court,” Adams said.

“District courts deal with hundreds of thousands of cases every year. While we’ve made significant strides in improving the scheduling of appearances and using judges’ time and court facilities efficiently, it’s pointless if defendants miss their appearances.”

The number of no shows currently results in around 3500 court events having to be rescheduled each year, as well as the same number of arrest warrants issued for failing to attend court. 

“Many criminal cases are cancelled because the defendant simply doesn’t show up.  This wastes the time of everyone in court, including the judge, lawyers, witnesses and victims, and draws out the time it takes for the case to be resolved.  In addition to being inefficient, this increases stress on victims,” Adams said.

The service is initially available to those on criminal charges but will extend to family and civil court users as it rolls out.

“The courts play a fundamental role in enforcing law and upholding the rights of individuals, and the quality of services experienced by New Zealanders in our courts is important.  Fewer delays and faster service lets people get through the process and get on with their lives,” said Adams.

COMMENTS

  • by C M Ruane 4/11/2015 12:40:11 p.m.

    This is all very well, but it is likely to add to the confusion.

    If I am representing a client I will tell them, before Court, where and when I want to meet them. Unfortunately I often find that when they appear in the Court building, well meaning Court staff will often tell them to go somewhere else. Last week I waited vainly on the ground floor of the Christchurch Court building (where I had arranged to meet my client so as ensure my client did not bump into her co-accused) only to find she had been told to go upstairs and wait outside the Court she was appearing in.

    I went up there to find her engaged in a confrontation with her ex partner.

    Please give the lawyers some credit for knowing what we are doing.

  • by Cheryl Simes 4/11/2015 6:33:25 p.m.

    I saw a notice about this in the court foyer. It didn't say anything about being criminal only. I thought it was a great idea for family clients and I enquired. Then I learnt it was only for criminal clients. Yes I was then told it would be rolled out to family clients later. But the notice didn't say so. I felt this implied that Family Court clients weren't 'real' clients of the recently merged court counter. Otherwise the decision makers would have realised they needed to specify clearly that it was for criminal cases only (at this stage).